Perissos Vineyard and Winery is located in Burnet and is owned by Seth and Laura Martin. Seth Martin is also the winemaker. Perissos is a Greek word found in the Bible meaning “exceedingly abundant, beyond what is expected, imagined, or hoped for.”
We first visited Perissos almost two years ago and for our last visit, we took advantage of the free vineyard tours they were offering. We learned quite a bit about Perissos and grape growing during the vineyard tour.
The Martins originally bought their current location just to grow grapes and it was their eighth vineyard to plant which they did in 2005. The first thing they did was plant 13 varieties in a test vineyard which Seth calls his library block, and he sees how they do after three to five years. Seth said they care about how the grapes ripen, not how they grow.
Today the vineyard is 13 acres including Tempranillo, Viognier, Touriga Nacional, Petite Sirah, Muscat Canelli, and Aglianico. It was our first experience with Aglianico and we learned it makes an Italian red wine. Seth said, “It’s the only grape I have which retains its natural acidity in spite of the heat.” With all the other grapes they grow, they have to add tartaric acid to adjust the acidity. Perissos is currently growing three acres of Aglianico.
Continuing about the estate vineyard, Perissos is located at 1,000 feet above sea level which means they do not get cool evenings. There are 12,477 vines and 10.5 miles of trellis among the vineyard. They use dairy cow compost when they fertilize the vineyard so they do not use synthetic fertilizers.
Seth talked about the soil in his vineyard by saying, “This is decomposed granite which makes it very well drained, pH neutral to slightly acidic, and it has just enough clay for water holding capacity. So it’s kind of textbook perfect for growing grapes. The other thing about it which makes it good for grapes is it’s very low in fertility.”
At the time of our visit, the vines had been netted to avoid the birds from eating the grapes. Before they net though, they must go through the entire vineyard (that total of 10.5 miles) by hand to thin the leaves and clusters of fruit. Once the netting is in place, the maintenance of the grapes cannot be done. After harvesting is done, they roll up the nets and try to reuse them for the next year.
Perissos Vineyard and Winery uses 90% estate grown grapes and the remaining 10% comes from other Texas vineyards such as the Bingham Family Vineyards including Tyler Oswald’s vineyard plus sometimes others. Since they mostly make estate wines, I asked Seth if he enjoyed being a grape grower or a winemaker. He replied, “I tell people affectionately that the winemaking is the one percent. The goal is to get them ripe on the vines and to keep them healthy throughout the season, because if you don’t have the varietal characteristics on the grapes, then you can’t extract them in the winery. So our goal in the winery is to be very minimalist.”
It was now time to try Perissos Vineyard and Winery’s wines. We entered the winery building which was built in 2006 and the winery was opened to the public mid-year 2009. Seth and Laura along with their five children live above the winery. The building was originally supposed to be a barn design and Seth used to be a home builder. Seth presented the line drawing idea to his architect/partner who then added much more flair with tapered columns, stone, and such. Seth is also a third generation carpenter so he did all the timber work himself. In the end, the building is a true replication of a standing timber frame barn.
We sat at a table to do a tasting although you can do tastings standing at their tasting bar. There are two types of tasting fees. A lower fee includes 4 wines and a higher fee is for 7 wines. One tasting fee is waived with a 3 bottle purchase. Perissos uses corks and the tastings are poured with a measured pourer. Crackers are available to cleanse your palate between wines. During the tasting you can buy a cheese plate which includes cheese, crackers, and fruit.
We were able to taste their 2010 and 2011 Viognier during the tasting. There was a difference in the fruit between the years due to rain and or lack of, but the winemaking was done identically so any difference found between the years was strictly because of the fruit. We learned their most awarded wine is their Roussanne blend which is a blend of Roussanne, Viognier, and Muscat.
Perissos uses both French and American oak barrels. They also use hybrid barrels which are American oak staves with French heads. They use their barrels for two years. When deciding on what type of barrel to use with their wine, they try to match the oak with the type of grapes. For example, a Petite Sirah or Tempranillo which is very heavy will be put in American oak.
Perissos produces a varied amount of cases of wine per year. In 2010 they produced 2,900 cases, 2011 produced 1,362.5 cases, and this year will be 4,000 to 4,200 cases. 85 percent of their sales come at the winery and from their wine club.
A gift shop is present which has t-shirts available. Tours of the vineyard are available if they are not busy or if you can catch their special tours like we took when offered. There are special wine club events such as dinners.
Perissos Vineyard and Winery is on the Texas Hill Country wine trail, the Top of the Hill Country wine trail, and the Thirsty Oaks wine trail. We highly recommend making the trip to Burnet to visit Perissos and enjoying their hospitality and Texas wines.